Bathroom Electrical Regulations (UK) | Everything You Need To Know

Are you attempting to DIY your bathroom renovation? Before you start to tackle any part of the lighting or extractor fan installation, you need to have a basic understanding of the Bathroom Electrical Regulations as set out by the government. Known as the BS 7671, these regs were last updated with the 18th Edition released in 2018.

In this post, I’ll explain what these bathroom electrical regulations are and how they affect your bathroom design and renovation.

Let’s dive in!

Disclaimer: This post is intended as guidance only. Check and confirm all electrics with a qualified electrician.

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Bathroom Electrical Regulations

While you should have some understanding of Bathroom Electrical Zones and IP ratings as they pertain to BS 7671, you should also understand that any electrical work done in a bathroom is considered notifiable as it falls under the ‘special location’ conditions. – “A room containing a bath or shower”.

You may be required to hire a licensed contractor or demonstrate to your local authority that you are properly trained to complete the work. If you do any work without notifying, even to an existing circuit or fixture, you may be subject to fines of £5000 and removal of the unapproved work.

What Are Bathroom Electrical Zones?

Electrical Zones have been created by the government to help clarify where it is safe to install electrical outlets and fixtures in a bathroom. Starting at 0 as the highest risk, each zone reduces the level of risk of electrocution based on the likely presence of water in the zone. Licensed electricians must adhere to all regulations listed in the British Standard 7671 or Requirements for Electrical Installations.

Zone 0: The area inside the bathtub or shower enclosure tray. Any kind of electrical unit that is installed inside Zone 0 must meet Separated Extra-Low Voltage requirements and is designed to be submerged. This may include jetted pumps for a spa tub.

Zone 1: The area immediately surrounding the bath. The zone extends from the floor up to 2.25 meters or the top of the shower head. Electrical units that may be used in this area must be designed to resist constant exposure to water. This may include electric showers or wireless speakers engineered for use in the shower. 

Zone 2: This is referred to as the splash zone and extends .6 meters beyond the edge of the tub and beyond the 2.25 vertical limit of Zone 1 to the ceiling. A second Zone 2 is located surrounding the basin.  Extractor fans and ceiling lights with the proper IP rating may be installed in Zone 2.

Outside Zones: All other areas that are not included in the other zones are referred to as Outside Zones. Shaver outlets, plate switches, and some standard outlets can be installed and used in this zone.

Bathroom Electrical Zones Diagram
Bathroom Electrical Zones Diagram

What Is An IP Rating?

An IP rating means an Ingress Protection Rating and is an international standard for determining how well a particular electrical enclosure is able to keep out particles and moisture. You may see an IP rating listed on the box or installation guide for a lighting fixture, shower pump, or exhaust fan while shopping at the home improvement store.

An IP Rating always consists of IP followed by two digits–which may be numbers or an X. For example IP23 or IPX3. The first digit refers to intrusion protection or how well it keeps dust and solids out of the enclosure. The second digit is a rating for moisture protection and this is the important number when buying lighting fixtures for your bathroom. The higher the number, the better the unit will be at resisting corrosion or suffering an electrical short when exposed to water.

The IP moisture rating starts at 0 and climbs up to 8. Zero means that the unit has no protection against moisture, 4 represents protection against water spray in all directions and a unit with an 8 rating can be immersed for an extended period. The BS 7671 regulations specify which IP ratings all new bathroom fixtures must meet or exceed in order to be installed in a specific Zone.

IP Rating Chart

First DigitMechanical ProtectionSecond DigitWater Ingress Protection
0No protection0No protection
1Protection against solid objects larger than 50mm (accidental hand contact with open palm)1Protection against vertically falling droplets, such as condensation.
2Protection against solid objects larger than 12mm (accidental finger contact).2Protection against vertically dripping water when the enclosure is tilted up to 15° off vertical.
3Protection against solid objects larger than 2.5mm (tools and wires).3Protection against direct moisture spray at angles up to 60° off vertical.
4Protection against solid objects larger than 1mm (fine tools and wires, nails, screws and other potentially invasive small objects)4Protection against splashing water from any direction. Tested for a minimum of 10 minutes with an oscillating spray.
5Partial protection against dust and other particulates.5Protection against low-pressure jets (6.3 mm) of directed water from any angle.
6Full protection against dust and other particulates, including a vacuum seal, tested against continuous airflow.6Protection against powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) of directed water from any direction.
N/A7Protection against full immersion for up to 30 minutes at depths between 15 cm and 1 metre.
N/A8Protection against extended immersion under higher pressure (i.e. greater depths).
IP Rating Chart

What IP Rated Lights Do I Need For A Bathroom?

Zone 0: Any type of lights or other electrical unit installed within Zone 0 must have at least an IPX7 rating. This means that the unit can be dropped in water and keep out water for at least 15 seconds. An IPX8 may be required for some parts of jetted tubs.

Zone 1: Electric showers and shower pumps installed in Zone 1 need to meet an IPX4 rating. The unit will be able to withstand spray and splashing from the shower without failing.

Zone 2: Your exhaust fans, ceiling lights, shaver sockets, and sconce lighting surround the basin mirror also must be an IPX4.

Outside Zones: Any outlets and fixtures installed in the bathroom in an Outside Zone have no IP requirement but still must adhere to all other restrictions according to government regulations.

Can You Have Electrical Sockets In A Bathroom?

Yes, but…

Any outlet other than a shaver socket must be located at least 3 meters away from your tub or shower enclosure. If you do have an extra-large bathroom suite that has an outlet, any portable electrical equipment that you use must have a shortened cord to prevent its use within Zone 2, 1, or 0.

Can You Have A Shaver Socket In A Bathroom?

Yes, your shaver socket can only be located in Zone 2 or an Outside Zone in such a manner that it cannot be splashed or sprayed by the regular use of the bath or shower. A shaver socket includes a transformer that steps down the main power supply from the house to lower voltage. It is less likely to cause an injury if the outlet is shorted out.

Bathroom Shaver Socket Bathroom Electrical Regulations UK

Can You Have A Light Switch Inside A Bathroom?

Yes. A pull-chain switch is the preferable method as wet hands do not come into contact with any part of the switch mechanism. However, you can install a plate switch in an Outside Zone in the bathroom as long as it is at least 60cm away from the edge of the tub, basin, or shower enclosure.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it! Everything you need to know about bathroom electrical regulations.

While it may not be the most glamorous and fun topic it’s certainly one of the most important for bathroom safety and impact on design.

Remember, this post is intended as guidance only. Check and confirm all electrics with a qualified electrician.


Michael R

Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.